Sunday, November 29, 2009

Fingers-in-the-Dikes Presidency

Nobody seems to be blinking as the world economy bursts another seam, in Dubai this time, accentuating again how much Barack Obama's tenure in the White House has been like a montage of the little Dutch boy racing from dike to dike trying to hold off disasters--on Wall Street and Main Street, in Detroit, Afghanistan, the ozone layer, wherever.

Watery images are on Peggy Noonan's mind as she observes that the President is now "leaking support" in "two core constituencies, Washington's Democratic-journalistic establishment, and what might still be called the foreign-policy establishment."

But Noonan may be missing the point. Obama I is looking more and more like the Year of the Flood, with a President trying to hold back rising tides on all fronts in the kind of world not ideally suited to his political style as a transformational leader on big issues rather than a first responder to one emergency after another.

But the President has been scrambling for quick fixes, and some observers are declaring partial successes, as Jacob Weisberg does in Slate, crediting him with the best first year since FDR and citing "mounting evidence that the $787 billion economic stimulus he signed in February—-combined with the bank bailout package—-prevented an economic depression."

Be that as it may, next month Obama's acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize will remind us that the fabled boy with his finger in the dike was Hans Brinker, who also competed for the Silver Skates and, through his good works, went on to become a successful healer.

Then again, for skeptics, there is another way to go, by joining the editor of Newsweek in urging Dick Cheney to run against Obama in 2012. As the waters keep rising, the former Veep could go back to doing what he did so well for eight years, shrugging and denying it all.

1 comment:

Holte Ender said...

The little Dutch boy analogy is appropriate, losing Washington's Democratic-journalistic establishment because of the way he has tackled the collapsing economy/confidence means he never really had them in the first place, but Peggy Noonan would say that whether it was true or not.